Ayn Rand’s political philosophy has had a profound effect on American politics in the past half-century, and yet there has been comparatively little scholarly discussion of it. Foundations of a Free Society goes a long way toward fixing that. Rand’s philosophy is presented by advocates and critically evaluated by knowledgeable and sympathetic opponents who situate Rand as a classical liberal in a larger tradition.
Foundations of a Free Society brings together some of the most knowledgeable Ayn Rand scholars and proponents of her philosophy, as well as notable critics, putting them in conversation with other intellectuals who also see themselves as defenders of capitalism and individual liberty. United by the view that there is something importantly right—though perhaps also much wrong—in Rand’s political philosophy, contributors reflect on her views with the hope of furthering our understandings of what sort of society is best and why. The volume provides a robust elaboration and defense of the foundation of Rand’s political philosophy in the principle that force paralyzes and negates the functioning of reason; it offers an in-depth scholarly discussion of Rand’s view on the nature of individual rights and the role of government in defending them; it deals extensively with the similarities and differences between Rand’s thought and the libertarian tradition (to which she is often assimilated) and objections to her positions arising from this tradition; it explores Rand’s relation to the classical liberal tradition, specifically with regard to her defense of freedom of the intellect; and it discusses her views on the free market, with special attention to the relation between these views and those of the Austrian school of economics.
“Finally, a volume that offers a systematic, principled alternative to prevailing orthodoxies (on the Left and Right) in economics and political philosophy. Gregory Salmieri and Robert Mayhew bring together scholars who explain, defend, or critically engage with Ayn Rand’s radical moral defense of capitalism and individual rights. This book is a must-read for anyone serious about the conditions of human flourishing. Those wishing to critique capitalism—properly understood—must contend with Foundations of a Free Society.”
Gregory Salmieri is a fellow at the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship and teaches philosophy at Rutgers University, having previously held visiting teaching and research positions at Boston University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is coeditor, with Allan Gotthelf, of A Companion to Ayn Rand.